A Missouri appeals court panel has overturned the murder conviction of a Columbia man who has been serving a 40-year sentence for the 2001 slaying of a newspaper sports editor.

The appeals court said Tuesday that prosecutors withheld evidence from defense attorneys for Ryan Ferguson that could have aided him during his trial.

Specifically, the court said prosecutors should have shared evidence from an interview with the wife of one of the prosecution's key witnesses that could have raised questions about his ability to identify Ferguson.

Ferguson was convicted of strangling Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt in the newspaper's parking lot.

The Western District appeals court said Ferguson should be released if prosecutors have not filed notice of a retrial within 15 days.

More From KHMO-AM 1070, News-Talk-Sports